The 15 million U.S. children growing up in poverty are typically more than 18 months behind their better-off peers by the time they enter school. Many never catch up. So I'm very thankful that tonight at 10 p.m. the new PBS documentary series A Path Appears is showing that these children are not a lost cause.
Indeed, 2.5 million children under five are living in the hardest-hit areas across the region, and 75 percent of all children infected in the current epidemic have died. Even those who are not infected themselves risk losing their parents to this terrible disease and often end up alone and ostracized by their communities.
One little girl I met, seven-year-old Elizabeth, was living under a house with her older brother just steps away from where their mother's body had been taken over a month ago. They had come and burned all their belongings and sprayed down the room but the children would not go back inside. While they survived the 21-day incubation period, they now faced the prospect of starvation and stigma as people in their town are too scared to even look at them.
These are problems that can only be fixed with more funding and resources, and now is the time to respond. Not only are the displaced battling to survive each day, they don't know how long they can stay wherever they are, if they will need to flee again or if their lives will ever return to normal. When and how this ends, nobody knows. What we do know is that humanitarian aid is desperately needed to keep people alive. The road ahead is long and the international community needs to step up now to save Iraq before it falls beyond repair.